PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte signed a bill promising to lower power bills by tapping surpluses generated by the Malampaya gas project to cover some electric bill items, legislators said.

The measure, signed on Aug. 8, goes into the books as Republic Act No. 11371, or the “Murang Kuryente Act.”

Ang mga pamilyang kumukonsumo ng 200 kWh kada buwan ay makakaasa na magkakaroon sila ng P172 na kaltas sa kanilang electric bill kada buwan, katumbas ng dagdag na 3 hanggang 4 kilo ng bigas kada buwan o isang kaban kada taon (Families consuming less than 200 kwh per month can expect a P172 reduction in their monthly electric bills, the equivalent of 3-4 kilos of rice)” Senator Sherwin T. Gatchalian, one of the authors of the law, said in a statement Tuesday.

Ang pagpasa ng batas nito ay isang malaking tagumpay ng bawat Pilipinong consumer tungo sa mas abot-kayang kuryente para sa lahat (The passage of this law is a big victory for consumers on the way to affordable power for all),” he added.

The new law proposes to lower power rates by using P208 billion of the net national government share from the Malampaya project to pay down debt incurred by the National Power Corp. (NPC).

This will address NPC’s Stranded Contract Cost (SCC) and Stranded Debt (SD), which are currently passed on to power consumers through the Universal Charge.

The law provides that upon full payment of NPC’s debt, the remainder of the allocation be used for “energy resource development and exploitation programs.”

It also requires the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (PSALM) to submit an annual report on the projected and actual cash flow statement to measure the impact of tapping the Malampaya fund. The report will be submitted to the Department of Energy, Energy Regulatory Commission, Department of Finance, Department of Budget and Management, and the Joint Congressional Power Commission.

Also signed was the Anti-obstruction of Power Lines Act, or RA 11361, which will put in place mechanisms that will allow for the responsive maintenance and rehabilitation of transmission and distribution power lines. — Charmaine A. Tadalan